Molly shares her experience of the physical, mental and emotional impact of having a blighted ovum.
I had loved having so much to look forward to, seeing such a bright future ahead. It's tough to have that taken away, and to feel like you can’t trust your mind and body because they steered you wrong.
When I found out I was pregnant I felt completely content, like I knew in my bones this was the right thing for me to do. After a couple of years of trying for a baby, I’d relaxed and put it out of my mind, focusing on other things. It seemed right that that’s when it would finally happen, in the same way that couples often tell you they met the love of their life ‘when they least expected it’.
What’s sad, and with hindsight ironic, is that for the first few days after getting a positive pregnancy test I couldn’t believe it was real. It just felt too good to be true. I fixated on the idea that it was a false positive, or phantom pregnancy. But once I called the Early Pregnancy Unit and spoke to a midwife, receiving congratulations from both, I allowed myself to be convinced. A false positive result would likely happen once, I was told, not repeatedly. I had spent a lot of money buying tests, racking up more than 20 positive results I’d refer to when I needed reassurance. I was sick and my boobs were sore. I was told when my scans would be, when I’d find out the sex, and it quickly started feeling very real.
Then there was some bleeding, and a huge amount of anxiety and tears. I booked a trip to the Early Pregnancy Unit for a scan and in the days leading up to it I really tried to hope for the best.
The last thing I expected the scan to show me was an empty amniotic sac. There was no heartbeat, because there was no baby growing at all. I now know this is called a blighted ovum miscarriage, but before going through it myself I’d never heard of that happening. ‘Where did my baby go?’ I asked myself as I walked the corridors in a daze. The staff at the Early Pregnancy Unit explained that some key ingredients had been missing, so the sac was growing without the foetus. When my body had started to twig what was happening, the bleeding started. It wasn’t my fault, there’s nothing I could have done and no way to know until a scan. I needed to go home and wait for the sac to come away on its own. If it didn’t, I’d be offered medication or a procedure to remove it.
It’s hard to explain those feelings of grief and disorientation. I had been sure there was a baby and while I’d tried to prepare myself for it being lost, I had never in a million years expected it to have never been there at all.
The physical symptoms of the miscarriage were scary and very painful. The mental and emotional impact can’t be understated either. I felt real feelings of hopelessness in those early weeks. I had loved having so much to look forward to, seeing such a bright future ahead. It’s tough to have that taken away, and to feel like you can’t trust your mind and body because they steered you wrong.
Many people have been optimistic about my chances of getting pregnant again, and of course after so long it’s a relief for that to feel more possible. But the possibility of a future baby doesn’t erase the fact that I desperately wanted this pregnancy to work out.
I understand I got carried away, and waiting for the first scan before getting swept up in it would have been wiser. But I would have been lying to myself and delaying the inevitable if I’d pretended I wasn’t attached to what I thought was my baby.
Now I’m back where I started, facing a lot of uncertainty, and trying to win the lottery each month with no guarantees. Truthfully, it’s not a place I wanted to be after a glimpse of something else. I’ve been angry at the unfairness of it all, drawing up endless checks and balances in my head and asking myself what more I need to do to be deserving of motherhood. But that being said, I have a good life and I’m living it. I’m making the most of the things that make me happy and hoping for the best, because what more can you really do?
I only told a handful of people about being pregnant, and I’ve told far more than that about the miscarriage. I don’t believe in carrying it alone like a shameful secret, and conversations I’ve had about it have helped me immensely. I’m thankful to the many brave women before me who have shared their experiences of miscarriage. Because of them, I never once felt alien or alone or like this was my fault.
I hope to be a mum one day and if that’s what you want, I hope for that for you too.